Sunday, July 20, 2014

Koyudo Brushes

Koyudo (晃祐堂) was established in 1979, only five years after Hakuhodo. But while Hakuhodo has reached worldwide recognition Koyudo is much lesser known, though they are surely getting there now thanks to fans like Sonia at Sweet Makeup Temptations. Sonia is the probably best online resource for Koyudo brushes, or just makeup brushes in general - she's a serious collector with an amazing collection! Go do some browsing on her blog if you're curious, but be forewarned you will get a lethal case of lemming!

Funny enough, it was from my sister that I learned about Koyudo. She didn't know I was looking for makeup brushes, but she does know I'm the free skincare/cosmetic dispenser of the family. So one day while browsing for anime goods on CD Japan (not affiliated) she stumbled across Koyudo's collections and promptly forwarded it to me. I did a google search for Koyudo, found Sonia and Sweet Makeup Temptations, and that was that. 

Unlike Hakuhodo now with an official USA online shop as well as a showroom and store in Torrance, California, CD Japan is the only online source for Koyudo brushes outside of Japan. My sister and I have been placing numerous orders and CD Japan is quite reliable. The only terrible thing they do is having this excellent point reward system. Couple that with the occasional promotions like extra or double points, or the campaign that ran last winter for 20% off all Koyudo fu-pa collection, which was a major piggie bank destroyer!

Brushes in this batch, in order as pictured from left to right: fu-pa01, fu-pa02, BP039, BP043, C008, C010, C011, and C019.

Anyway, here are my pros and cons for investing in Koyudo brushes.

- One word: craftsmanship. These are just as well made as the Hakuhodo brushes!
- Decently sized collection, nowhere as big as Hakuhodo but still a good variety.
- Very reasonably priced, anywhere from $10-100+ a piece although generally the brushes are lower priced than Hakuhodo. Don't get me wrong, you can still spend a fortune, but between two brushes of similar hair, shape, size, and quality, the Koyudo one will probably cost less than Hakuhodo.

- Again, time investment in care and maintenance. 
- Mostly natural hair, again I'm okay with this but others may not be. However, Koyudo just came out with an entirely synthetic line, the "Lohas Series," PPT derived from corn. I might pick up a few to try. This line is very well-priced.
- Slow order turnaround, which to me is completely understandable because the brushes are shipped directly from Koyudo in Japan. Brushes from the fu-pa collection in particular are made to order. All my Koyudo orders so far have taken an average of 2-3 months from order placement to arrival, because there is always a wait-list. It actually makes me very happy to know the company is growing, but if you need new brushes a couple of weeks from now, forget it! 

Alrighty, notes for this batch: 
1. All brushes were photographed pre-wash. Unlike the Hakuhodo brushes, the smaller Koyudo eye shadow brushes are starched, which means measurements are totally off for those. I don't mind taking post-wash pictures, but it means lengthy delays and whatnot.
2. Despite some brushes being starched in the pre-wash photos, for visual folks like me a seeing is still better than nothing. CD Japan isn't too great about pictures and measurements of the Koyudo brushes.  
3. Again, cameras don't have the same depth-perception as our eyes. Measurements are only estimates and not so much engineer-precise, plus the starching of the brushes.
4. Brushes are listed by collection, then model number. 
5. Again, I prefer versatility over luxury, I use a whole lot of liquid formulas, and despite the dryness my skin isn't super sensitive. So I don't normally go for squirrel hair brushes, because they are fragile and expensive, a double-whammy for me.

- BP039 Tamage, 1,500JPY: Okay, let's get this one out of the way - tamage is cat hair. Hakuhodo only explains about tamage but not what it is. Chikuhodo notes it's feline hair, but doesn't say what kind (last I checked the feline family is huge...). Finally, it was Koyudo that says clearly it's cat hair. I googled it in Japanese and had hubby double checked. It's cat hair. So there you have it, folks!

Now on with the brush - it's really soft! As tamage is excellent with liquid based products I really wish this brush is much bigger than it is - as you can see, it's quite small! So for it's size I'm limited to crease work with powder shadows, or with liquid/cream shadows I'll have to put in more effort to cover more areas.

BP039 post-wash. Despite the nice tapering from the pictures above, after washing you can see that the brush is not tapered at all at the fronts or sides.

- BP043 Kolinsky, 1,700JPY: I had hoped this one would be more narrow, because after washing 6mm turns out to be too wide for my thin and sparse brows. But hey, it's excellent for tight-lining!

BP043 post-wash

- C008 Weasel, 1,600JPY: this is actually a slightly narrower and rounder-tipped version of the Hakuhodo K005. Since I don't see the K005 on Hakuhodo's website anymore, perhaps give this one a try? It works just as well, easier actually, given the rounder tip. I use it to smudge pencil liners or to line with powder shadows.

C008 post-wash.

- C010 Pony, 1,400JPY: this brush is nowhere as pointy as it look pre-wash (see post-wash photo below). This is an excellent brush to highlight the inner corners of the eyes with as it picks up a good amount of product. It can also smudge, do the outer V, and as it's pony it's also great for liquids. You can definitely use it to dot on concealers, or even line. Likey this brush very much!

C010 post-wash. Still tapers to a nice point, just not pokey pointy like above.

- C011 Goat, 1,300JPY: another brush that doesn't look nearly as pointy post-wash (photo below), but it's excellent for smudging and the outer V. I would use it to highlight the inner corners of the eyes too but it's too narrow and the wider C10 above does a much quicker of job at this task.

C011 post-wash.

- C019 Goat & Synthetic, 2,800JPY: very soft and I use it to brighten the areas around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Basically, I roll it in a transparent and lightly shimmery finishing powder (DHC Q10 Face Powders Pink 01 or Yellow 01, Lavshuca Face Powder Glow, Revue Feel Veil PowderMaikohan Loose Powder N Sakura or UV Compact SakuraShiseido the Makeup Luminizing Color Powder L1 Translucent, PN Blossoming Face Color Lucent Orange, Aube Blossom Veil Powder, Maquillage Precious Design Color Natural Beige, etc.), shake off the excess, then tap it onto the skin before brushing to blend. It does a marvelous job of brightening these areas! 

Since it's a goat and synthetic mix, I have tried to use it with a liquid but it's way too soft to blend liquids. On the other hand, if you have a super sparkly or super pigmented blush, or both (Stila Make Me Blush Cheek Color, Visee Mineral Cheeks Baby Finish, Estee Lauder 5-Tone Shimmer PowderNYX Mosaic Powder, Jillian Dempsey for Avon Horizon Blush, etc.), something that a fully natural hair brush would pick up way too much of, this brush will deliver just the perfect dose of color and/or shimmer. 

Just a few words on the fu-pa series before we start - these are truly marvelous brushes, luxurious in every aspect, look, feel, and performance! They are extremely dense but extremely soft, and so masterfully packed and shaped not a single hair is out of place! And you know what, for their craftsmanship quality they are also amazingly well priced, worth every penny and more! I'm so so so glad I jumped on that 20% off discount CD Japan ran last winter. Will definitely stalk them like a madman now for the next promotion - I plan to pick up a few more ^.^ Love love love these so much!

Oh, did I mention they are also short and chubby and freakin' adorable?!? They're like the chibi of makeup brushes xD But being cute doesn't make them toys. Take a look at this handle. At first glance it just looks like black lacquer, but look again closely in direct sunlight and you will see it reflects fine emerald shimmers. The lacquer is actually *not* black but a green so deep it appears black. Wow! I tried to capture these emerald shimmers but couldn't get them to jump out even with strong flash. But you get the idea.

- fu-pa01 Goat Sokoho, 4,457JPY: being goat, heavenly soft, and crazy densely packed, it will pick up small amounts of product but deliver lots of color, or coverage, depends on whether you use it for blush or foundation. So at least for me, using this brush + super pigmented/sparkly blush = disaster, unless I plan to blend it into oblivion, which this brush is wholly capable of and then some, but that totally defeats the purpose. In other words, this brush is the opposite of the C19 above, for blushes that are lacking in pigmentation (as many Japanese powder blushes are...). You want some of that color? This blush will deliver it.

- fu-pa02 Goat Hakutotsuho, 3,505JPY: this is a puff with a handle, seriously! Like the fu-pa01 above, it's so so so soft and so so so dense that stippling is a breeze, be it foundation or blush, powder or liquid. And yes, it can also blend anything into oblivion, so if you're working with a really thick product and you want to thin it out to a natural finish, this is the brush for the job. I use it to blend thicker bb creams, but only around the nose and mouth area. Because of its thickness and its blunt round shape, it's not a precision instrument, so blending around the under eye area isn't ideal if you're clumsy like me. 

More to come!


Ylenia F said...

Hi! Great review, I'd love to know if the koyudo fu pa02 would work even with more thinner foundations...for example Vitalumiere Aqua or Luminous silk... :)

Ylenia F said...

Hi! Great review, I'd love to know if the koyudo fu pa02 would work even with more thinner foundations...for example Vitalumiere Aqua or Luminous silk... :)

D. said...

Hi Ylenia F,

I haven't tried either of the Vitalumiere Aqua or the Luminous Silk foundations, but judging from swatch pictures online, I would venture that their light and thin textures are similar to the Hanskin Super Snail and Mineral Magic Moisture bb creams I own.
(both are reviewed here:,

In that case, I would say yes, the fu-pa02 should work. I use mine with these light bb creams and it blends them beautifully!


Ylenia F said...

Thank you so much!

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